Brenda Wynn is the new interim Davidson County clerk after the Metro Council picked the former U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper aide over a council colleague to succeed the departed John Arriola.
Wynn, former director of community outreach in Cooper’s congressional office, garnered 28 council votes for the post Tuesday, easily besting At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard who collected just nine votes. She replaces Arriola, who resigned in June after a television report the previous year revealed he collected $40 fees from couples for performing wedding ceremonies. A year of controversy ensued, prompting his exit.
“I will do my very best to restore the public’s confidence and trust in this office,” a celebratory Wynn told reporters Tuesday.
Wynn, already named the Democratic Party’s nominee for the November general election, expects to be sworn into office Friday and to begin her first day on the job Monday. Tops on her to-do list is a “complete audit” of the office and a installing a zero-tolerance policy by banning the acceptance of gratuities for wedding ceremonies.
“I know that there’s some great people there who want to serve our community, and I want to be a part of making that office accountable to the citizens of Davidson County,” she said.
The council’s appointment Tuesday gives the clerk’s job to Wynn on a temporary basis until November. She will then have to earn the job full-time during November’s election, but it’s still unclear whether she’ll have an opponent.
Following Arriola’s resignation, the Davidson County Democratic Party’s Executive Committee moved promptly to make Wynn its nominee. The county’s Republican Party hasn’t selected a nominee, however. It has until Aug. 16 to do so.
Wynn went into Tuesday the heavy favorite to capture the appointment of the Democratic-leaning council. Her main challenger came from Tygard, whose nine votes came from the council’s conservative pack.
Tygard, one of Arriola’s fiercest council critic, told council members Tuesday he would not run for the office in November, if appointed, “and would focus instead solely on restoring the confidence of the county clerk’s department.” He pledged to donate the $20,000 earned from his interim service to charities.
But many council members arrived at the courthouse already sporting Wynn stickers. A large contingent spoke on behalf of Wynn’s candidacy.
A third clerk candidate Kenneth Eaton withdrew his name from consideration after he suggested the council had already made its decision. A fourth candidate James Baxter failed to show up for a committee interview, and was therefore eliminated from consideration.